Nobody Puts Romcoms in the Corner by Kathryn Freeman

Nobody Puts Romcoms in the Corner by Kathryn Freeman

Harry has split up with his girlfriend, but she refuses to move out of his house. As he is not a fan of confrontation, he hopes she’ll change her mind and goes to live somewhere else in the meantime. Sally’s sister has moved out and she needs a lodger to help pay the mortgage. When a drunken attempt at the ‘lift’ scene from Dirty Dancing goes viral on tiktok, Sally persuades Harry to re-enact other pivotal scenes from well-known romcoms with often hilarious results.

If you are a fan of romcoms, this is the perfect book for you right from the title onwards. On the other hand, I’m not sure it would make a lot of sense if you didn’t get the references. Both Harry and Sally have issues relating to their parents that affect how they see the world, particularly the possibility of finding love and romance. Harry has been materially well looked after by his parents, but never shown any love so he does not recognise it. Sally’s parents died young and she has an idealised view of relationships, but despite her obsession with romcoms she runs a successful business so is in touch with reality.

One of the themes explored in Nobody Puts Romcoms in the Corner is that actions speak louder than words – not everyone can put how they feel into words, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Another is that nobody can guarantee that their relationship will last forever – all you can do is take a chance and hope for the best.

The characters are well drawn and believable, and both main characters do change and grow as the story progresses. As the story is told from both their points of view, we get a rounded picture of what they are  thinking and feeling. There is a lot of humour, occasionally verging on the cheesy, and some serious issues as well. The films referred to are all ones I remember, and overall this was an enjoyable trip down memory lane. Thanks to One More Chapter and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.

The Faking Game by Portia MacIntosh

The Faking Game by Portia MacIntosh

The Faking Game is the sequel to The Plus One Pact by Portia MacIntosh, and takes up the story of Cara and Millsy several years down the line. On the surface, things are as good as ever, but what their families don’t know is that they split up six weeks previously before Millsy went to LA. I’ve never come across a sequel to a romantic novel before, as in this fictional world you don’t expect things to go wrong (unlike in real life). Amazon describes The Faking Game as a ‘laugh-out-loud fake relationship romantic comedy’, but this was not quite my experience of it. While there were some amusing incidents (trouble still follows Cara and Millsy wherever they go), my overwhelming feeling was of sadness and confusion. It was never clear to me exactly why they had decided to split up. I kept on reading as I like the characters and had to hope they would eventually come to their senses. Part of the problem for me was that we only get Cara’s point of view, so have no idea what Millsy is thinking.

They had arranged a large gathering of both families at Millsy’s gran’s house in Scotland, so decided to pretend to still be together until afterwards to avoid spoiling it for everyone. Added to this, Millsy has come back from the US with a voice coach in tow, as he is having trouble nailing the southern accent required for the part he is to play in a film. Tally is tactless and insensitive, goes everywhere Millsy goes, and I don’t know how Cara managed to keep her cool when Tally kept getting in the way.

It is very clear from the outset that Cara is not happy with the situation and wants them to get back together, but like the reader has no idea what Millsy wants. Lack of communication seems to be at the heart of The Faking Game. While I did not enjoy this as much as the previous book, it was fun catching up with the familiar characters, and the ending is definitely worth waiting for. Standout characters for me were Cara’s new work partner Charlie, and Millsy’s gran Iona. I’m not sure that The Faking Game would make much sense as a standalone – I think you would be better to read both books in order to understand what is going on. Thanks to Boldwood Books and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.  

Fast Cash by J Gregory Smith

Fast Cash by J Gregory Smith

Fast Cash is the fourth book in the Reluctant Hustler series by J Gregory Smith. I have read and enjoyed them all, and while you could read it as a standalone you would get much more out of it by going back to the beginning and finding out how it all started. Kyle and his fellow team members all bring different skills to the table, and work well together to help those most in need in return for the promise of a favour in the future if required.

Here they are up against criminals on two different continents, and this is where computer expert VP comes into her own. Phone scammers in Kolkata are stealing money from vulnerable elderly victims worldwide, including locally in Philadelphia, and with the help of an Indian contact they set out to trace the source and shut them down – not an easy task when they are so far away and can’t intervene. At home, they come up against a project called Sweat Equity, a kind of pyramid scheme, whose main aim is to defraud local government of multi-million-dollar grants. Fuelled by sheer greed, they will stop at nothing to achieve their aims. Can Kyle, Rollie, VP, Steve and Sandy stop them before they get clean away?

The best thing about this series is how well developed the characters are – the black humour and witty banter helps to offset the danger they face on a daily basis. Fast Cash is a gripping thriller, dealing with very real contemporary problems, and it kept me reading long into the night. I look forward to catching up with Kyle and his friends in the next book. Thanks to J Gregory Smith for a copy that I review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT

Berserker by Jack Lively

Berserker by Jack Lively

In this fifth book in the series, set in the Middle East in 2016, we get a glimpse into Tom Keeler’s past life before he retired from the Air Force. Berserker works really well as a standalone, though I definitely recommend reading all the others as this series just keeps going from strength to strength. In the previous books Tom Keeler is a loner with an impressive range of skills, but the comparison ends there. Here we find out just what he is capable of, as he searches for a missing girl he promised to protect. There are a lot of different US government agencies involved in this plot, as well as foreign interests, so it is difficult to know who can be trusted, and this only adds to the tension.  Jack Lively really puts his main character through the wringer. At one point, I was literally on the edge of my seat, chewing on my fingernails. The relentless non-stop action would make a great plot for a film – I would definitely watch it.

The writing is superb, the characters well defined and believable, and the barren middle-eastern landscape adds to the atmosphere. I don’t pretend to understand the political situation in this region, and found all the military acronyms very confusing, but this did not affect my enjoyment. I also found the meaning behind the title quite fascinating. I like the character of Tom Keeler and look forward to many more books in this series. Thanks to Jack Lively for a pre-publication ARC.

Winter Falls by Ian W Sainsbury

Winter Falls by Ian W Sainsbury

Tom Lewis’s parents were brutally murdered when he was twelve, and he was shot in the head and left for dead. Miraculously he survived, and now twenty years later his alter ego, Jimmy Blue, is taking his revenge on the people responsible – a criminal called Winter and his vicious henchmen. By necessity there is a high level of violence, but somehow it all seems justified. I was very impressed with the writing and totally gripped by cinematic quality of the story.

I chose to read Winter Falls after reading the blurb and discovering that the main character was called Jimmy Blue – ‘Move Away Jimmy Blue’ is one of my favourite songs by Scottish band Del Amitri. It was too much of a coincidence to ignore, and I was not disappointed. Winter Falls is an excellent addition to the vigilante revenge thriller genre despite the unusual premise, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series and learning more of the backstory.